15. Sustenance of Biodiversity: An Action Line Through Bhagavad Gita
Dua Kamal Kumar
Dept. of Zoology, Dayalbagh Educational Institute, Dayalbagh, Agra 282 005
Life exists on earth as plant, animals and microorganisms. Further, their size vary from microscopic to giant form. The example of the former is amoeba, bacteria while that of the latter is elephant and giraffe etc. No doubt, their forms and physiology may be different but their very survival and actions are linked with each other directly or indirectly, actively or passively.
The Lord Sri Krishna in Bhagavad Gita (BG) states to Arjuna (The representative of mankind) that so long as a living being carries his body, he is bound to perform actions in one form or another, according to his nature. The activities include locomotion, rest feeding though and other vital sensory functions. "Surely none can ever remain inactive even for a moment; for everyone is helplessly driven to action by nature born qualities." (BG III-5)
These activities are performed under the
impulse of one's nature, which is formed under the latencies of
one's deed and as carried out by their ancestors. For example
a dog will give rise to a dog and it will perform activities accordingly.
This is what is meant by being helplessly driven to action by
one's nature born qualities. Therefore, plants, animals and microbes
are all involved in their natural activities.
2. The Ecological Cycle
In an ecological cycle they occupy a definite
and irreplaceable position. Plants are the primary producers in
an ecosystem. The use the energy from the sunlight to combine
carbon dioxide and water to form energy stores mainly in the form
of carbohydrates. Plants take minerals from the soil. It is important
to note that plants form the basic food of all animals. The herbivores
like deer, goat, cow, rabbit etc., take plants as food. There
are carnivores like lion and tiger which feed on these animals.
All these plants and animals on death are decomposed by the micro-organisms
to form manure or raw material/natural pool for the other surviving
plants. Therefore, in an ecosystem all forms are interdependent
like a chain. "Beings are in a state of non-manifestation
before birth and at death they return to the non-manifestation
again. They are manifest only in the interim period between birth
and death." (BG II-28) The idea is that in a living being
from birth to death, the body is in manifest form i.e. a man's
child will look like a man and a monkey's like a monkey. However,
after death they are disintegrated in the same carbon, nitrogen,
iron etc. The environment plays a very important role in the transition
of a being from non-manifest to manifest stage.
3. Evolution and Extinction of Biodiversity
Evolution and extinction have always been taking place in the nature. New forms are evolved at the expense of weak forms. "The unreal has no existence: the real never ceases to be the truth about both has been realized by seers." (BGII-16)
As per the law of evolution, beings are always seeking to adapt themselves in relation to the changing environment and other related factors. This is only possible if their understanding of nature and its forces is correct. Further, their adjustment with environmental is also perfect. Life is a series of experiments to get at the permanent. As there is constant change in the environmental cycle, this maybe slow, resulting into the formation of a new condition. Therefore, whatever form an individual may have, with the change of environment, modification with respect to the altered environment is required for their survival.
The fossil record shows that the rate
of evolution has always been greater than the rate of extinction
resulting into the formation of millions of varied related and
4. Importance Of Biodiversity
The importance of biodiversity for human beings cannot be underestimated. The various medicines, foods, energy sources and industrial products used by man have come virtually from every ecosystem and every corner of the earth. Man has used plants and animals as medicines from the earliest times. Even today the tribal persons in different parts of the world, who are cut off from the man designated as "modern" use plants and animals as medicine. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 80% of the people in the developing countries rely in traditional medicine. In South East Asia 6500, China 5000 and India 2500, plant species are used as medicine. In India, Ayurveda, the science of medicine based on plants is in practice successfully from thousands of years and it is claimed that the this system of therapy has some answers to the disease which the western medicine does not have. Animals and plants have contributed as medicine to humans for our well-being in a big way.
Didemnin, a chemical, derived from sea squirts, is active against a broad range of viruses ranging from colds & influenza to herpes and meningitis. Shark livers contain lipids that enhance human resistance to cancer. Blister beetle provides cantharidin used to treat urogenital disorders. Apart from these certain animals are used as models for research program of which till date there is no or very little alternatives, For example Armadillo for the production of anti-leprosy vaccines, some species of snail and American bison for studying the defense mechanisms in cancer as they do not contract cancer.
At least 119 pure chemicals substances extracted from higher plants are used as medicines throughout the world. Over 40% of all United States prescriptions depend upon natural sources. Some of these drugs are classics, which have fundamental uses in modern medicines. Quinine an alkaloid from the bark of Cinchona tree isolated in 1820 even today has an effective answer to malaria. Caffeine (Tea) acts as a nervous system stimulant and Morphine (opium poppy) as an analgesic. In fact only 500 species of higher plants worldwide have been thoroughly studied for their potential as a source of new drugs and the majority of them are found in temperate zone, leaving the tropical forest scarcely explored. Regrettably, these reserves are rapidly being lost forever with their forest habitats. Agriculture production has increased along with the scientific development. We have been able to develop new strains of high yielding crops for feeding humankind. The new strain, unfortunately, has been observed to provide good results by way of disease resistance and increase in output for a limited period, as observed in wheat, rice, soybean, coffee etc. After which more new strains are required and this is only possible through wild genes or species.
The contribution of biological diversity to industry cannot be ignored. Forest that stored solar energy millions of year ago provide us oil, coal and natural gas for industry. Natural fats and oil contribute and chemical manufacturing cosmetics and adhesives, preservatives, foods, beverages, lubricants, polishes and whole variety of medicines.
Timber is the biggest wild contribution
to Industry with a world trade value of US$ billion per year,
with increasing domestication of trees, shrubs the input of wild
genes will be needed for maintaining and increasing adaptability
and disease in tree plantations. With the exception of teak, all
world trade in hard wood is derived from natural forests entirely
maintained by the ecosystem services of biodiversity. The current
contribution of biological diversity is to provide medicine,
agriculture and industry in immense way. Many other properties
in nature are yet to be discovered, Only ensuring the survival
of raw material can provide full potential of biological diversity
which is yet to be realized.
5. Role of Human Beings in Nature Conservation
The present composition of natural wealth including man is the result of selective elimination of some species and advancement of others. In the natural process of extinction and evolution, species disappeared naturally during the course of time, perhaps 99 percent of all those that ever lived are gone. No doubt, this process has been slow and the ecological cycle has not been disturbed. However, undesirable human activity has sped up the rate of extinction. With the present rate of human exploitation of natural wealth, it is estimated that one quarter of earth species may be lost within 30 years.
Species die out as their natural habitats
are destroyed. For instance, more than half the world species
live in tropical forests, by 2020 deforestation could wipe out
between 5-15% of them. Over exploitation is another threat and
commercial interests have jeopardized many species including whales,
elephants and fishes. The African elephant is poached for its
ivory and rhinoceros for their horn. Modern agricultural methods
have seriously reduced the ecological diversity where the emphasis
is placed on production in huge monocultures. The planet's natural
wealth lies not just in species but in genetic variations within
them. Specialized breeding has dangerously narrowed the genetic
variability of many species restoring their ability to adapt
pollution, climate change disease or other forms of adversity.
6. Guidance Through Scriptures
"He who, casting aside the ordinances of the scriptures, acts on the impulse of desire attains not perfection, nor happiness nor the Supreme goal." (BG 16-23) "Therefore the scriptures be your authority in deciding what ought to be done and what not to be done. Having known what is said in the ordinance of the scripture you should act here." (BG 16-24)
The purpose of the scriptures is to guide man to live a perfect life on earth and to remind him repeatedly of the Supreme Goal which is mundane and which ought to be sought earnestly. This being the case, man is required to act in nature as per the sanctions of the scriptures so that the natural cycle is not disturbed. The world charter adopted the United Nations General Assembly in 1982 state's: "Every form of life is unique, warranting respect of its worth to man, and to accord other organisms such recognition just be guided by moral code of action."
Yet many people and governments believe
that they have a right to consume more, without concern for the
consequences. This explosive attitude towards nature is leading
to species extinction, threatening levels of pollution, depletion
of stocks of land and wildlife, and overall impoverishment of
many people's lives. Global per capita production of all the basic
renewable resource system like forests, fisheries, croplands and
grassland, has begun to decline after reaching peaks in 1960's
and 1970's because selfish activities are limiting the production
of the planet.
7. The Enemy of Nature - The Demoniac
Lord Sri Krishna has analyzed the reason of the deterioration of the natural wealth, the persons involved and the reason of their unethical thinking. "Men possessing demoniac disposition known not what to do and what to refrain from; neither purity, nor right conduct nor truth is found in them". (BG XVI-7)
The acts which are directed towards the general welfare of man are commendable. They are designated as ethical acts and worth performing and such action as is attended with evil consequences is worth eschewing and one should abstain from it. Men possessing demoniac disposition never realize that they should undertake only such actions as are worth performing and should abstain from those which are worth eschewing; hence it is observed that these people are guided in their activities by their own whims or caprices. Their entire actions and personality appears to be polluted.
"Men possessing a demoniac disposition say this world is without any foundation, absolutely unreal and Godless, brought forth by mutual union of the male and female, hence conceived in lust; what else" ? They believe that this universe, consisting of animate and inanimate creation, has no basis in the shape of God or there is no moral law. They have a feeling that no living being had any existence prior to its birth nor a creature have any life after death, nor there is any creator or controller like God. These men have no other objective to fulfill in life except the gratification of carnal desires.
"These men of atheistic persuasions deny the existence of God. They are body-centered or materialists. Hence, their nature gets debased, they never feel inclined to perform any virtuous deed. All their resolves are made with the aim for sensuous enjoyment. Their mind is ever busy hatching evil designs against others. In this way they harm themselves too. They habitually perform their mind, speech and body in the in gruesome deeds that tend to inanimate and exterminate the animate and inanimate creations. Further, whatever their intellect, mind or body may be, it is solely intended to torment or obliterate the entire creation, thereby, effecting the smooth functioning of the ecosystem. The accumulation of wealth and enjoyment of luxuries of various kinds is the sole aim of their existence. (BG XVI-11)
"Held in bondage by hundreds of expectation and wholly giving themselves up to lust and answer, they strive to amass by unfair means hoards of money and other objects for the enjoyment of sensuous pleasures." (BG XVI-12) "They say to themselves, this much has been secured by me today and not, I shall realize this ambition, so much of wealth is already with me and yet again this shall be mine." (BG XVI-13) "Given over to egoism, brute force, arrogance lust, anger etc., and culminating others, they hate me (inner controller of all) dwelling in their own bodies as well in those of others." (BG XVI-18)
Those people possessing a demoniac disposition
proclaim themselves as the lord of all, they enjoy all luxuries,
accomplished in every way, mighty and happy. Nothing is rational
in their thinking. Resorting to brute force they antagonize others.
Giving over to lust, they indulge in immoral acts of various kinds
and obsessed by anger they threaten to kill whose ever acts in
opposition to their will or dares to offend them.
8. The Righteous War
The Lord Sri Krishna states that a righteous war is required against these demoniac people i.e. in the present context against those persons who are involved in poaching deforestation, ozone depletion, polluting the environment and other such acts which has led the present state of the planet. "Beside considering your own duty too you should not waver; for there is nothing more welcome for a man of a warrior class than a righteous war. (BG II-31)
The Lord explains that each member of a society has a duty to perform towards nature's well being and to protect to his fullest ability and he has termed these persons as men of warrior class. In the present state, a war against the demoniac persons responsible for the present state of earth is required to be launched, not from any wicked motive or greed, in which no injustice is perpetrated, but which is conducted in conformity with the laws of morality and which devolves on one as a matter of duty, and has been waged for upholding equity and justice; there is no better religion than this in which there is participation in such a righteous war for a righteous means. "Now if you refuse to fight this righteous war, than shirking your duty and losing your reputation, you will incur sin" (BG II-33)
The Lord here proceeds to state that if he (man) withdrew from the fight he would be guilty of falling from his allotted duty and the leaders, politicians, environmentalists and other persons who have acquired world fame by their righteous acts would be utterly destroyed and lost. Over and above that the neglect in performance of an obligatory duty would make them guilty. "May people will also pour undying infamy on you; and infamy brought on a man enjoying popular esteem is worse than death." (BG II-34)
The Lord seeks to show Arjuna that for
a man enjoying wide fame, as well as esteem of the people, loss
of credit and honour is more painful than death. "Your enemies,
disparaging your might, will speak many unbecoming words; What
can be more distressing than this." (BG II-36) The Lord
points out if these esteemed persons fail to perform their obligatory
duty by fighting the enemies of the congenial ecological cycle
will come to conclusion that some lack of fear and courage has
desisted Arjuna/man to take the righteous path. Therefore, a strong
line of action is required to be taken.
9. Action Line
A path of action is required to restore the loss already done in the nature. In the path of action, there should no loss of effort nor there be fear contrary result. Even little effort or practice of discipline will be an act towards right direction. (BG II-40) In this act, the intellect has to be determinate and directed singly towards one ideal i.e. saving the planet. The Lord states that for any act there are two courses; Jnanayoga or path of knowledge and Karmayoga or path of action.
For the survival of the planet and the sustenance of the biodiversity, the action line demands these two factors. In the path of knowledge one has to determine the factors responsible for the loss of biodiversity and about those plants and animals which are facing extinction. In the path of action, the practical aspects are required to be taken into consideration and evolve and implement such methods for the restoration of the threatened plant and animal species. In the path of action of action there should be no loss of effort nor there be any fear of contrary results. Even little practice efforts of this discipline will be an act towards the right direction. (BG II-40)
Many International agencies including the convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), Worldwide Fund, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in different countries, and many other Governmental agencies of respective countries are working in this direction to find out the reasons for the depletion of biodiversity (Jnanayoga) and the mode of protecting this loss (Karmayoga). The factors responsible for the vanishing species are the destruction of the natural habitats and use of trade of plants and animals. It has been reported by CITES that smuggling of endangered species is one of the largest problems facing the customs departments (UNEP, 93-Vol. 10-No.1).
The CITIES and other International organizations conducted intense surveys and listed species that are threatened or potentially threatened by the international trade, for example in appendix I, those species are included that are threatened with extinction and they are, or may be, affected by trade. For example all lemurs and apes, giant panda, many South American monkeys, great whales, cheetah leopard, the Asian elephants, rhinoceros etc. In the Appendix II the animals which might become endangered if trade were not controlled or monitored. Regulated trade is permitted by issuing proper licenses. This helps in monitoring and analyzing the wildlife trade. This appendix contain 259 named taxa but many ten of thousands of species including all cacti and orchids, primates, cats otters, whales dolphins birds of prey, tortoises and crocodiles. Appendix III contains species for which trade is regulated with in the country. All this acts as an effective tool to monitor the trade of plants and animals. This act can be termed as an act of Jnanayoga. To stop the illegal trade the role of customs and police is very important in combating the criminal activities and fraud. They have to fight the righteous war against the criminals.
The population of the threatened flora and fauna have been increased by the help of breeding programs. The successful breeding of turtles and crocodiles are the burning examples. In collaboration with UNESCO's Man and Biosphere Program, a network of 286 biosphere reserves in 72 countries and a net work of six regional microbial gene banks and training centres have been set up.
All these acts, no doubt, are commendable
but in this million of dollars are spent including constant involvement
of human beings and material. This for the simple reason that
it is our environmental deleterious activities that have threatened
the smooth functioning of the natural cycle. The establishment
of natural reserves, gene banks, breeding programs and other activities
as part of path of knowledge and path of action are commendable
in which the seeds of various flora are stored. Man, perhaps,
forget that nature itself is a 'Great Womb' The seeds of all life
types are stored and germinate in it and the expression of the
genetic material takes place here. "My womb is Nature, in
that I place the seed; thence O Arjuna, is the birth of all beings"
Therefore, for the sustenance of the biodiversity and smooth functioning of the natural cycle the role of environmental education at the grass root level is very important. Through this the demoniac person can be transformed in divine person. The divine natured man believes in well-being of living beings. Further, they are of the opinion that all levels are the manifestations of one Cosmic Life. The Lord, thereby will recognize the sacredness in them and not choosing to hurt them for sport, illegal trade or any other form of lust.
This requires sincere efforts at the global level by the government, people and individual. As for the result the Lord says: "Your right is to work only, but never to the fruit thereof, Be not instrument in making your action bear fruit, nor let your attachment to be inaction." (BG II-47) Man has the right to work in the right direction without the caring about the fruit. As for the fruit is concerned, it is the business of The Lord.
Dua Kamal Kumar
Dept. of Zoology, Dayalbagh Educational Institute, Dayalbagh, Agra 282 005
The Lord Sri Krishna in the very initial part of his discourse with Arjuna, the representative of mankind, of the eternal knowledge in Bhagavad Gita (BG) has mentioned about the interaction between senses and the environment. "O son of Kunti, the contacts between the senses and their objects, which give rise to the feeling of heat and cold, pleasure and pain etc. are transitory and fleeting, therefore, Arjuna ignore them" (BG II-14)
The Lord has significantly divided this verse into the following parts: (i) An organism makes contacts with the environment (Objects) through senses. (ii) The animal feels and analyses about the favourable and unfavourable environment. (iii) All these feelings are transitory, indicates that either the animals is able to acclimatize them and/or the environment is fluctuating.
Acclimatization by the animals means that it is able to adjust/adapt in the adverse situation and now the very different environment appears to be congenial to it. Further, through this verse the Lord also indicates that environment too is never the same and it undergoes `a change'. Thus there is correlation between a living organism and the environment and the former interacts with the latter for its survival by adaptation or change in behaviour. "All living creatures follow their tendencies; even wise man acts according to the tendencies of his own nature." (BG-III-33)
"He, however, who has true insight into the respective spheres of the Gunas (in the shape of objects of perception) and their actions, holding that it is the Gunas (in the shape of senses & mind etc.) that move among the Gunas (objects of perception) does not get attached to them, Arjuna"(BG-II-28). "Surely, none can ever be inactive even for a moment; for everyone is helplessly driven to action by nature born qualities" (BG-III-5)
In this verse `action' and `helplessly driven to nature born qualities denote that a living being is bound to perform various life activities according to his nature born qualities i.e. according to its genetic inheritance. All activities of the body and senses and its interaction with the environment such as movement, rest, satisfaction of hunger locomotion and reproduction and reflexes i.e. A human, frog or lion will act under the impulse of respective nature which are formed out by the latencies of deeds performed by their respective ancestors. All actions are performed by the modes of Prakriti (Primordial matter). The fool, whose mind is deluded by egoism, thinks: "I am the doer" (BG-III-27)
A living being is an embodiment of his own nature. In the environment, so as to survive all living beings follow their own tendencies. The word `Prakriti'/Nature denotes the distinctive nature of an individual representing the sum-total of tendencies of action done in previous lives i.e. by its immediate ancestors and stored up and passed to the predecessors. As it is well known that life is a continuous process, further, life in the body senses, is not an end in itself. It is only a passing phase. The interaction between environment and senses of an individual has played an important role in evolution. The former is never static, so the latter interacts with it and evolve the body accordingly. Thus a relationship exists between nature and nurture.
Genes are supposed to control the details of behavioural development. Different animals develop different behavioural abilities. The behaviour has been broadly classified into instincts (innate) and learning. Innate behaviour is said to be genetically determined and learned behaviour to be environmentally determined. Therefore, a trait may be a result of the interaction between nature (hereditary factors) and nurture (environment). These two without each other are meaningless. A genotype without environmental building blocks (nature) would remain a genotype and nothing more. Environmentally supplied materials, in the absence of genetic information (nature) to organize their use in development, would remain unorganized collection of molecules. The development of every aspect of an individual - its appearance, its physiological mechanisms, its behaviour, its everything - is the product of an interaction between hereditary information and the environment that provides the substances for development. Thus the behavioural diversity has evolved because of variety of environmental problems encountered by animal species (1).
The behaviour is traditionally categorized into: instincts and learning. Instincts have a number of striking characteristics. (i) They are supposed to be practiced by an entire species or some large fraction of the population. For example - all males of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster vibrate their wings when courting a female in much the same manner, producing a complex species - characteristic pattern of sound waves (2). (ii) Innate behaviour appear to be released by relatively simple stimuli. The mechanical relationship between a complex behavioural pattern and simple cue is best demonstrated by watching an animal in an unusual setting where its innate response is totally inappropriate and totally unintelligent. For example, if a baby bird is banded with a shiny ring while it is in the nest, the parents will sometimes treat the band as if it were a piece of fecal matter, a substance that is always removed from the nest and dropped some distance away. An adult bird may pull vigorously at the ring despite the fact that its offspring's leg is attached to the band and despite the cries of distress from the nestling (3).
These examples are a sort of `unintelligent' automatic behaviour. The interesting point to note here is that the animals helplessly behave in nature according to their latencies provided by their ancestors. (BG-III-5) For this mechanism of innate behaviour or "helplessly driven to action nature born qualities" it is proposed that the nervous system of animals must have special units responsible for the detection of neural messages generated by sign stimuli. The Innate Releasing Mechanism (IRM) would upon receipt of appropriate signal, activate a battery of motor cells and so turn on a behavioural response or `Fixed Action Pattern' (FAP). However, it has now been proposed that there are physiological mechanisms that resemble IRM and that FAP (4 & 5).
The essential property of an innate behaviour or FAP is that the response is performed in a completely functional manner, the first time an animal of a certain age and motivational state encounters the correct sign stimulus. A beautiful example of this point is the reaction of a mature female herring gull to herring gull egg (6) . The stimuli associated with an egg will release feeding behaviour if the female is not breeding and not incubating egg herself or if the egg is located well outside her own nest. The same egg will release incubation behaviour if it is in her nest clutch for some time or has had to leave her nest or has had to leave her nest - because of a disturbance in the colony. The female `knows' when and how to incubate her eggs properly the first time. She settles down on her clutch. The same egg will release retrieval behaviour in which it is rolled back into her nest, if it lies just outside the female's own nest (having been pushed there during a hasty departure or having being placed by a man for the sake of doing this experiment). Again the female uses a functional retrieval response the first time she encounters her egg just outside her nest.
An adaptive change in behaviour is observed in the animals which it attains through the mode of experience (7). This is defined as learning. Learning behaviour has been attained over the instinctive behaviour. In it lies the path of action and practice. The learned behaviour or knowledge acquired after over coming ignorance.
The following is an interesting example: "If a baby toad encounters a tiny moving bug for the first time after losing its tadpole tail and hoping out onto land, it will be able to perform the stereotyped prey-capture behaviour of its species. It may orient toward the object, open its mouth, flip out its tongue, strike the prey, withdraw the tongue and the creature stuck to it, and finally swallow its food. Some would argue that this is innate response to a certain class of stimuli.
If the toad is taken to the laboratory after having matured further, it can be offered various insects under controlled conditions. A hungry cooperative toad will go through the routine of snapping flies, mealworms, and other edible creatures presented to it. If the experimenter, then places a toxic millipede in the amphibian's enclosure, the toad may take this bait as well. The millipede responds by excluding a violently nauseating substance from the pores of its body, whereupon the toad will spit and push the prey from its mouth. Later, this toad will refuse to attack this millipede species even though it is hungry and will take edible insects avidly."
Its behaviour has changed. The change endures and is adaptive. The animal has learned to avoid after having tasted just once. The toad can also learn with equal facility not to attack other dangerous prey like honeybees etc. However, the toad captures and feeds on insects (innate behaviour) and void the toxic ones (learned behaviour). The acquired aversion of toads to millipedes is just an example of an innate learned behaviour. It is worth noting that innate behaviour can be said to be innate or unlearned or ignorant until and unless it had the facility for learning. The learning material comes from the environment. The animal can be termed as innate or unlearned till he has encountered the object/stimulus available from the environment. No development of behaviour will take place if the animal is deprived from the environmental stimulus.
Thus, it is possible that some environmental variables would influence the development of the behaviour. A learned behaviour is achieved over innate behaviour. This proposes that innate behaviour is genetically determined and learned behaviour is environmentally determined. This signifies that nature and nurture are both important for the development of a behaviour.
"Arjuna, sacrifice through knowledge is superior to sacrifice performed with material things. For all actions without exception culminate in knowledge, O'Son of Kunti" (BG IV-32) The Lord in the verse has very beautifully narrated about knowledge, action and sacrifice. He has compared between action for material possession and action for attaining knowledge. For example - A man lives and acts to acquire enormous wealth and material possessions. It is important to note that material things cannot be made to use more than the requirement. Over possession fosters care and anxiety. He who gives himself over too much to mammon pays the penalty in the form of being lop - sided or stunted in intelligence. Sacrifice for knowledge on the other hand develops into wisdom. The Lord declares that all sacrifices / practices are born of actions (BG IV - 32). All actions require some sacrifice in the form of practice and it culminates into knowledge. Knowledge through sacrifice in which a mode of action has been involved provides a power of discrimination to an animal. "The knowledge is enveloped in ignorance" (BG V-15)
"On earth there is no purifier as great as knowledge, he who has attained purity of heart through a prolonged practice of Karmayoga automatically sees the light of Truth in Self in course of time". (BG IV-38) The Lord says, "The Yoga of knowledge and Yoga of Action both lead to Supreme bliss. Of the two, however, the Yoga of action is superior to Yoga of Knowledge." The significance of learning/knowledge indicate that knowing individual has less problems in life or countering the environment than the ignorant one. It is knowledge that intuits the senses for furtherance of action and modify, if necessary. The knowledge of the environment cannot be gained by senses, or intellect etc. alone. This can only be known when it acts in nature and interacts with the object. It is this then only the animal can discriminate between desirable or undesirable factors.
The Lord also states that it is through the Discipline of Knowledge (Jnanayoga) that an individual attains knowledge about its surrounding but a keen observance in it reveals that it has gained through Discipline of Action. Further, it is through practice that brings perfection in the individual. Thus the Lord exhorts that one of the important factor for learning is through the discipline of action acquired by the discipline of knowledge (8).
`Practice makes a man perfect' is a saying and this is true for all living organisms. In it the knowledge acts as a purifier. Practice and knowledge provide fruit or goal of an individual. The practice/action are regarded as purifying only because they are helpful in revelation of knowledge. As ignorance is the root cause of any problem it is through the action that an organism comes to realize the truth about its true nature, requirement and ability to survive in the environmental stress or conditions. On earth in this verse refers to this nature, and the product of nature or all that exists in nature acts as substratum for the process of knowledge. Having attained knowledge through the act of Karmayoga and in due course of time provide perfection. Thus an animal sees the `truth in the self'. Truth in the self means that the moment his practice reaches culmination, the light of Truth dawns to the senses of the animal.
Therefore, the Lord declares that all sacrifices are born of action. Sacrifice here means to make an attempt, to devote time and energy to know more, to remove ignorance . He states that all actions culminate in knowledge. Knowledge as sacrifice stands for the process of acquiring the power of discrimination. Further, a careful study indicates that all knowledge is attained through the mode of action indicating a correlation between the senses and body.
"Arjuna, actions do not bind him who has dedicated all his actions to God according to the spirit of Karmayoga, whose doubts have been torn to shreds by wisdom and who is self-possessed." The Lord here says that nature is infallible. There is a divine plan and purpose in its functioning (9). It provides varied types of stimulus to living beings stage by stage which helps the latter to a state of perfection. He who understands this does not fall prey to doubt but applies himself with all earnestness to self-fulfillment in tune with the Cosmic Plan. This wholesome attitude and right application develops into enlightenment. The enlightened individual has the power of discrimination and modify its behaviour or take a rationale approach.
"Shining like the Sun, Knowledge reveals the Supreme in them, in whom ignorance is destroyed by self knowledge" (BG V-16) Darkness vanishes when the Sun rises, similarly ignorance ceases to be with the dawn of knowledge. An animal through the mode of practice or action in nature is able to attain knowledge. The attainment of knowledge in the present context is that Bufo is able to know about toxic millipede or stinging bumble bees and modify its innate response and avoid this behaviour. In other words, a living organism who has attained real knowledge would never and in no circumstances fall a victim of delusion or be exterminated in nature. It will continue to evolve, through the interaction of Nature and Nurture.
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9. Swami Chidbhavananda. 1972. The Bhagavad Gita. Sri Rama Krishna Topovan. Tiruchirapalli (DT).
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